so, the long version of this introduction? ok, sure, why not. a little while ago - say two weeks, my Uncle (no, not that one or that one but that one, but oddly it was at the home of that one) informed me that he had heard that most rare and most welcome of things, look you see - a new song by Holly Johnson. as a Frankie fan, and as an extension a fan of all that Frankie did after Frankie were no more, i went off to discover it.
as it transpires, that new song is the boss one called Ascension, with it being the theme from the weirdly widely anticipated film adaptation of the life and challenges of Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards. my investigations and movements into finding this recording to purchase led to me discovering another Holly recording which i was invited to give coins of money to. i did, of course.
Unleashed From The Pleasuredome is a live recording of Holly Johnson, with the recording as it were happening on 28 October 2014 at a place called the Koko in a city called London. cost and place of purchase, for you in a rush? sure - £20 in coins of money as a digital card transaction, plus £2.28 in coins of money for what they say is first class postage but isn't, but we will get to that. the disc was originally only available from venues on the recent(ish) tour Holly did, but now you can access it from the most splendid Holly Johnson Rocks website.
did i go and see Holly on this tour and for some reason neglect to mention it here on this blog? no. why ever would i do such a thing? it's shield related. i, i....just couldn't. i love Frankie, i love all of Holly's solo stuff, i love all of the Frankie solo stuff. watching Nasher's online gigs over the years has been immense fun, but that was just him alone and was what it was. going to see Holly perform the Frankie classics with another band was, well, just like i did not go and see some of the rest of Frankie with another singer, something that never occurred to me as something that i should do.
should i have switched off the shield? should i have switched off to feel? dunno, maybe. just like i refuse to go and see The Stone Roses again, lest it somehow impact on my feelings and memories of Heaton Park, i've just always felt it safer to keep the memories i have of Frankie Goes To Hollywood as treasured as they are.
and indeed, on the basis of this recording, i have sorely missed out. Holly is, as you may well expect or if you like assume, absolutely awesome, going on this very, very raw, unedited and not tampered with recording.
what tracks formed the set? well, blogger and apple are at it again, so my picture of the back cover is upside down just now. in short, you get all 7 Frankie Goes To Hollywood singles, the 4 massive hit singles from his first solo album, some tracks from the wonderful new(ish) album Europa and highlights from the solo records he released throughout the 90s.
any particular highlights? all of them. it feels like i am being obscure in my first point, but be that as it may hearing the wonderful performance of Penny Arcade is a reminder of just what a great and awesome pop song this was, somehow lost on the world at the time. but let's get on to what you want to know.
i was surprised that the 7 singles were the Frankie songs which featured. they are all awesome, but, well, evidently wrongly and on the basis of no evidence i had kind of assumed that the last three singles the band released would be ones that Holly had slight to no interest in. the singles were the start of the end of the band, and it did not end in a way that he has made known he has no fond memories of. something i never considered was the fact that, going on the sheer strength of the performances, these were songs that Holly clearly loved and had a huge passion for; them being buried under the falling apart of Frankie then presumably being an even more painful thing than i had presumed to assume.
the pain or feelings about the rest of the band are made known from time to time, of course. like, for instance, when Holly introduces Two Tribes, he reminds himself that he "single handedly ended the Cold War" with the song. irrationally, it actually hurt a bit to hear that. but, you know, he feels how he feels, and he will never, ever do what he's told. that's what makes Holly who he is, and that's why i and so many others adore him dearly.
Relax was introduced with all sorts of references to something or other ejaculating. i have heard that the song might be about, you know, thingie, but all the same this was different from when i saw them in 1987, where the song then was introduced as a "blast from the past".
Holly engages in quite a bit of banter with the audience - to which i say lucky you audience, i hope you enjoyed every moment and remember it. this banter, or if you like bantz, is one area where you experience just how raw and unedited the recording is, for the volume is so low on it you can barely hear what is spoken.
elsewhere, other evidence resides of no alterations to the recording. like for instance, the finale of, as you would expect, The Power Of Love, where Holly apparently sings the wrong bit and stops, or just sings a bit that he does not feel like singing the rest of.
just how strong are the Holly solo songs, cast as they are against the formidable material he did with Frankie Goes To Hollywood? the answer, my friends, is that they are very strong. as in we, the world, should have been more supportive of Holly and given him the love and support that would have seen him take to the stage more often in the 90s and 00s.
beyond the previously mentioned Penny Arcade, all of the solo songs from the career (so far) of Holly get outstanding live treatments. to move from the obscure to the obvious, it's a wonderful reminder of just how amazing a pop single Love Train was and what a great song it remains to this day. Americanos, too, remains fun, and a reminder of a time when the world loved not hated America.
is this 2 CD set worth the coins of money that is requested of it, which came let us not forget to a total of £22.28? the answer to that for me is very much yes, and it's a yes to any lurking Frankie or Holly fans that are curious about whether or not to go for this.
a decidedly scary yet ultimately thankful element of the price is that Holly will be getting a fair and appropriate amount of the coins of moneys paid in terms of his rights and royalties. let me elaborate.
over the years i, and many others, have spent hundreds and hundreds of coins of money on Frankie Goes To Hollywood. a consequence of the deal they signed (which they do admit to knowing this was the case) was that they get virtually nothing from the sales of their music. the deal they put pen to paper to is often cited as the worst record deal ever and is described as being wholly skewered against the artists. a great many people have made an awful lot of money from Frankie over the years; the five artists who created the magic are sadly not of their number.
will Frankie ever perform together? i suspect not. other than the deal i mentioned meaning that they would just make some rich people richer from doing so, there seems to be no interest, wish or desire to do so from any of them. that's kind of sad from a fan perspective, but from my fan perspective, the very last thing i would wish to see is the band together again with a feeling that they very much did not want to be together again.
should Holly ever set out on tour again and say "OK, except for Power Of Love i am not doing any Frankie material", i will be there like a shot. i doubt, however, that the commercial pressures placed on him would ever allow for such a thing. for now, then, i am very pleased to have this most excellent recording for my listening pleasure, and i trust that all of those who went along to see him on tour had an amazing time.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!